NAO 216-104-A: Management and Utilization of Aircraft


Issued 05/01/2015; Effective 05/01/2015 Reviewed Last: In Process


. 01 This Order prescribes the policy and responsibilities for management and utilization of aircraft, both manned and unmanned, in support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Programs .

02 This Order is a revision of NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-104, Management and
Utilization of Aircraft.

03 Standardized aircraft operational details can be found in the Aircraft Operations Center
(AOC) Policy 220-1 Aircraft Operations Manual and the NOAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems

SECTION 2. Scope.

01 This Order governs the management and utilization of all aircraft activities within NOAA, including Commercial Aviation Services (CAS) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Requirements for collecting and reporting utilization of CAS in order to comply with
government-wide reporting requirements and for serving as the point of contact for those who intend to use those services, are assigned to the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO).

SECTION 3. Definitions.

01 Throughout this Order, "aircraft" refers to both manned and unmanned aircraft, unless
specifically stated otherwise. "Corporate UAS" are UAS that can be classified as NOAA capital assets that are operated for all of NOAA by AOC, owned by AOC, and allocated through the Fleet Council. "Field UAS" fall below the capital asset threshold and meet AOC criteria for being owned and operated by individual line offices in compliance with AOC policy. "Corporate aircraft" refers to all manned aircraft and corporate UAS .

02 Refer to Appendix A for definitions of terms used in this Order.

SECTION 4. Policy.

. 01 NOAA manned aircraft and UAS are public aircraft, as defined at 49 U.S. Code (U.S.C.) §40102(a) (41), and applicable Federal Aviation Administration policies and gui~ance. When conducting public aircraft operations, NOAA aircraft are not subject to Federal Aviation Regulations, except for those prescribed under the authority of 49 U.S.C. Subtitle VII, pertaining to the use of airspace, the control of air traffic, and aircraft registration. However, aircraft shall be operated and maintained in accordance with all pertinent regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and NOAA's AOC unless a deviation is approved by the Commanding Officer, AOC. In addition, aircraft shall be operated and maintained in accordance with all the aircraft manufacturer's recommendations unless a deviation is approved by the Commanding Officer .

. 02 For UAS, the FAA has established interim operational approval guidance in the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) in order to ensure alternate means of compliance with the regulations in 14 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Chapter I (Federal Aviation Regulations). Furthermore, the Interagency Committee for Aviation Policy (ICAP) has determined that Federal agencies will manage UAS as aircraft under Federal Management Regulation (FMR) Chapter 102 Part 33, 41C.F.R.§102.33. Management and operation ofNOAA aircraft and UAS will adhere to the FMR regulation and the FAA guidance along with any subsequent revisions/rules .

. 03 Management and operational control of all aircraft are functions and responsibilities of

. 04 All NOAA UAS operations will be approved by OMAO to ensure safety and compliance
with regulations and policy. Line Offices will be responsible for determining operational goals, mission payloads, and flight strategies within the bounds established by OMAO for safe operation of aircraft and appropriate use of corporate aircraft. Line Offices shall consult with the UAS Program Office on latest technologies to meet their mission needs.
OMAO has established training requirements, standards, and policy for UAS within NOAA. NOAA Line Offices may own and operate field UAS and operate corporate UAS with line office qualified pilots in accordance with AOC policy. Line offices will adhere to these policies and AOC will provide oversight of these systems by approving qualified pilots, system airworthiness, and operations. Line offices will coordinate all acquisitions ofUAS with OMAO to ensure that systems being procured meet safety and regulatory requirements and that NOAA complies with federal UAS policy and reporting requirements.
UAS that exceed the capital asset threshold may be designated as field UAS by request of the NOAA Center or Line Office to AOC. The NOAA Center or Line Office will be required to
complete an approved Standard Operating Procedures Manual.

.05 No officer or employee is permitted to use or authorize the use of any Government-owned, operated, or exclusively used aircraft for other than official purposes (31 U.S.C. § 1349(b)) .

. 06 All NOAA aircraft will be used in an effective and efficient manner for the conduct of
approved projects .

. 07 For corporate aircraft, NOAA will maintain airworthiness and employ appropriate aircraft operating standards to ensure optimum safety of flight. Only qualified and designated personnel will serve as NOAA pilots, navigators, flight engineers, crew chiefs, operators or other crewmembers. For field UAS, Line Offices shall follow AOC airworthiness guidelines .

08 AOC will continually appraise requirements, use, safety, materiel condition, and operating costs of all NOAA aircraft .

09 NOAA will use scheduled air carrier service for transportation of personnel and cargo
whenever practical.

10 Aircraft obtained solely for spares will not be subject to the aircraft acquisition process.
Such aircraft will not be recorded as part of the active NOAA inventory. Any action to assign
inactive aircraft to flight status will be subject to the aircraft acquisition approval process .

11 Assignment of corporate aircraft to NOAA projects will be made in accordance with the
OMAO Aircraft Allocation Procedure .

12 NOAA-controlled inactive aircraft will be disposed of when there are no further program
requirements within NOAA. Disposal of NOAA-owned inactive aircraft will be in accordance
with Federal Property Management Regulations and the OMAO Aircraft Sale/Disposal Process .

13 Registration and Identification of Aircraft.
a. NOAA-owned manned aircraft will be registered with the FAA. The Certificate of
Registration will be displayed in the aircraft in accordance with FAA requirements.
b. All NOAA-owned manned aircraft will display markings as required by FAA
Regulations for registered aircraft of the United States.
c. All NOAA-owned unmanned aircraft will be registered and marked as the prevailing
requirements for such are dictated by the FAA.
d. All NOAA-owned manned aircraft will be painted in accordance with NAO 201-115 .

14 Persons on board NOAA aircraft are limited:

  1. to those whose presence is required for mission performance or who are associated with that mission;
  2. to officers and employees of the U.S. Government traveling on official business;
  3. to Members of Congress and employees of Congressional committee staffs whose work relates to NOAA Programs;
  4. to non-U.S. Government employees with crew member status or a scientific reason for being on the flight who are engaged in activities that enhance accomplishment of a NOAA Program (e.g., personnel of cooperating state, county, or local agencies or universities; representatives of foreign governments; and contractors' representatives);
  5. to Foreign Nationals with crew member status or a scientific reason for being on the flight who are engaged in activities that enhance accomplishment of a NOAA Program that have been cleared in accordance with NAO 207-12, Technology Controls and Foreign National Access, and OMAO Policy "Foreign National Access to NMAO Facilities and Platforms" dated 16MAR06.
  6. For NOAA aircraft that do not have FAA airworthiness certificates, only crewmembers or other persons aboard the aircraft whose presence is required to perform, or is associated with the performance of, a governmental function are allowed on board such aircraft as defined by FAA Advisory Circular No. 1-1 on Government-owned aircraft. The Director of OMAO shall be responsible for complying with this requirement. The Oceans and
    Coasts Section of NOAA's General Counsel (NOAA GC) should be consulted when
    questions arise as to the interpretation of the FAA requirements .

15 The incidental transportation of persons not meeting the conditions of Section 4.14 of this Order is permitted on a space-available basis as approved by NOAA GC, provided it is not prohibited by regulation and it does not affect the official use of the aircraft.


. 01 The Director, Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), has overall management authority for NOAA aircraft and shall:

  1. chair the Fleet Council in accordance with the Fleet Council Terms of Reference (TOR);
  2. issue the Annual Call for NOAA aircraft time requests in accordance with the OMAO
    Aircraft Allocation Procedure;
  3. oversee NOAA aircraft utilization reporting methods and procedures;
  4. be the approval authority for Foreign National access to NOAA aircraft and OMAO
    facilities in accordance with NAO 207-12, Technology Controls and Foreign National
    Access and OMAO policy; and
  5. ensure Foreign National activities on NOAA aircraft and in OMAO facilities are
    conducted in accordance with NAO 207-12, Technology Controls and Foreign National Access and OMAO policy

02 The Aviation Safety Program Manager (ASPM) shall:

  1. administer the Aviation Safety Program for CAS in accordance with NAO 209-124,
    Aviation Safety Policy; and
  2. maintain and report cost and utilization data for NOAA's use of CAS in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and GSA requirements .

03 The Chief, Policy Planning/Program Services (PPP), through the PPP staff, shall:

  1. participate in the OMAO Aircraft Allocation Process in accordance with its terms;
  2. provide interface between NOAA and other Federal Agencies to meet aircraft related
    needs; and
  3. maintain current and accurate aircraft allocation plans throughout the covered cycle

04 The Aircraft Working Group (AWG) contains one representative from each Line Office
appointed by its respective Assistant Administrator and one representative from OMAO, and shall:

  1. provide the Fleet Council with recommendations and assistance to support its functions in accordance with the Terms of Reference; and
  2. participate in the OMAO Aircraft Allocation Procedure in accordance with its terms .

05 The Commanding Officer, Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), shall:

  1. maintain operational authority over NOAA aircraft to ensure safe, efficient, and effective use of resources;
  2. provide logistical, technical, and administrative support necessary for the successful
    accomplishment of NOAA corporate aircraft schedules;
  3. represent NOAA on external and interagency groups in the area of aircraft management;
  4. approve, by waiver, deviations from policies regarding the qualifications of pilots and
    other crew members as set forth in the AOC Flight Operations Policy;
  5. review current aircraft requirements and associated costs on a continuing basis;
  6. administer policy and guidelines for the management and use of NOAA corporate aircraft and aircraft facilities, budgets, personnel, etc.;
  7. provide the interface between NOAA and elements of DOD and other Federal Agencies for the coordination of interagency agreements, and seek other agencies' support to serve NOAA's aircraft related needs (Line Offices are responsible for planning their science programs on other Federal Agency aircraft and shall keep AOC informed of their interagency aircraft activity);
  8. obtain the required clearances from foreign government(s) through the Department of State for NOAA corporate aircraft operations abroad (the Commanding Officer, AOC, will advise NOAA offices and programs when approvals have been obtained from foreign government( s) );
  9. coordinate annual meetings with Program Managers to jointly review possible means for improvement in operational support;
  10. develop policies governing the management of NOAA aircraft, standard operating
    procedures, aviation personnel, and related matters;
  11. perform technical assessment and evaluation of proposed acquisitions, classifications, assignments, and dispositions of NOAA aircraft;
  12. review and evaluate the adequacy of facilities and the procedures for corporate aircraft operations and maintenance;
  13. develop and maintain current information on AOC corporate aircraft operations and
    related budgetary and cost data;
  14. support the Fleet Council in assessing current and future operational requirements and evaluate the effectiveness of NOAA corporate aircraft to meet those requirements;
  15. make recommendations to the Fleet Council to approve the replacement, disposition, and acquisition of NOAA corporate aircraft as required to meet agency objectives, together with the funding responsibilities for operations;
  16. maintain liaison with other government agencies and the private sector on matters
    pertaining to aircraft operations and maintenance;
  17. provide authorization for personnel with official flight duties to perform, operate, or travel on NOAA aircraft;
  18. administer the Foreign National/Deemed Export program for NOAA corporate aircraft and AOC facilities in accordance with NAO 207-12, Technology Controls and Foreign National Access and OMAO policy;
  19. ensure all NOAA aircraft operations comply with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774;
  20. ensure all NOAA aircraft operations comply with International Traffic in Arms
    Regulations (IT AR) requirements;
  21. ensure an Operational Risk Management (ORM) review is conducted for each project assigned to NOAA aircraft and UAS;
  22. ensure safety investigations are conducted for all incidents involving NOAA aircraft,
    including UAS;
  23. develop criteria and approve all NOAA UAS airworthiness, flight operations, and UAS crewmembers designations;
  24. ensure that UAS operations do not pose unacceptable risks to persons or property,
    operations meet applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, maintain a standardized process to review and approve NOAA UAS operations, identify roles and responsibilities consistent with federal regulation managing UAS, and ensure that applicable government reporting requirements are met;
  25. develop standards for, monitor and provide oversight of, and delegate authority for field UAS operations and management to NOAA Line Offices for UAS that are non-capital assets and meet criteria for line office control in the UAS Handbook;
  26. review Line Office requests for UAS procurement to provide guidance on UAS operations and ensure that pertinent AOC and government policy are being met; and
  27. when requested by a Line Office or Center, waive the capital asset threshold for corporate UAS with appropriate justification such as specially modified UAS being used for research and development. The NOAA Center or Line Office will be required to complete an approved Standard Operating Procedures Manual.

06 AOC's Program and Projects Staff shall:

  1. participate in the OMAO Aircraft Allocation Procedure in accordance with its terms;
  2. provide cost estimates for NOAA aircraft support of projects; and
  3. work with Program/Project Managers on programmatic and logistical requirements, and on development of Project Instructions for NOAA aircraft .

07 NOAA Line Offices shall each:

  1. designate a representative to the AWG;
  2. assist their A WG representative in the OMAO Aircraft Allocation Procedure in accordance with its terms;
  3. ensure NOAA Form (NF) 57-11-52 Charter Aircraft Services Report, is completed in
    accordance with requirements;
  4. submit all requests for UAS operations to AOC; and
  5. coordinate all UAS acquisitions with AOC .

08 Program Managers requiring aircraft support shall take the following actions:

  1. upon recognition of the need for CAS, submit a NF 57-11-51 Aircraft Support Request, to OMAO;
  2. upon issuance of the Annual Call, prepare a NF 57-11-51 for each request for NOAA aircraft time and forward to the A WG representative in accordance with instructions for the Annual Call;
  3. coordinate with OMAO and AOC on projects that will utilize aircraft by:
    1. drafting project protocol(s) covering the scientific and technical aspects of field work, and forwarding such protocol(s) to the AOC Programs and Projects Staff for comment as early as practical
    2. supplying resources necessary to install, operate, and maintain special equipment aboard aircraft in a timely manner;
    3. completing and submitting customer satisfaction evaluations; and
    4. participating with the AOC Programs and Projects Staff in pre- and post-project briefings.
  4. if commercial aviation services are utilized, submit 57-11-52 Charter Aircraft Services Report, to ASPM within 30 days of completion of the agreement, along with copies of purchase orders, contracts, or receipts. The reporting requirement applies to all methods of acquisition, including bankcard. Include the clearance number, as assigned by ASPM, on the NF 57-11-52 in order to ensure the cost and utilization data may be matched with the initial project request;
  5. cooperate with OMAO on budget initiatives to acquire enhanced NOAA aircraft
    capabilities to support future Program requirements; and
  6. comply with NAO 207-12, Technology Controls and Foreign National Access, and
    OMAO policy, for access to NOAA aircraft and/or OMAO facilities if foreign national personnel are participating in their project.

.09Acquisition offices shall ensure requests for CAS and UAS include an OMAO-assigned
clearance number. As awards are made, acquisition offices should provide ASPM with a copy of each obligating document .

10 Finance offices shall monitor CAS-related documents and shall provide CAS disbursement information upon request of ASPM.

SECTION 6. References.

. 01 14 C.F.R. § 91, Federal Aviation Regulations .
. 02 22 C.F.R. §§ 120-130, International Traffic in Arms Regulations .
. 03 31 u.s.c. § 1349 .
. 04 49 u.s.c. § 40102 .
. 05 49 U.S.C. § 40125GSA BULLETIN FMR Bulletin-24 UNMANNED AIRCRAFT
. 06 NAO 201-101, NOAA Fleet Allocation Council REVOCATION NOTICE .
. 07 NAO 201-115, NOAA Aircraft, Color and Identification .
. 08 NAO 207-12, Technology Controls and Foreign National Access .
. 09 NAO 209-124, Aviation Safety Policy .
. 10 AOC Policy 220-1 Aircraft Operations Manual.
.11 AOC Policy 220-1-5 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations .
. 12 NOAA Fleet Council Terms of Reference .
. 13 NOAA Unmanned Aircraft System Handbook.



01 This Order supersedes NAO 216-104, Management and Utilization of Aircraft, dated
February 10, 2003 .

02 NOAA UNSEC signs because there is no delegation of authority for this NAO.
An electronic copy of this Order will be posted in place of the superseded Order on the NOAA Office of the Chief Administrative Officer website under the NOAA Administrative Issuances Section. 


Under Secretary of Commerce for
Oceans and Atmosphere

Office of Primary Interest:
NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations
Aircraft Operations Center
Policy Planning / Program Services

Appendix A to NAO 216-104-A

Appendix A


Aircraft - Light or heavy, single or multi-engine, manned and unmanned, airplanes and

Bailed Aircraft - A Federal aircraft owned by one executive agency, but in the custody of and
operated by another executive agency under an agreement that may or may not include costreimbursement. Bailments are executive agency-to-executive agency agreements and involve only aircraft, not services.

Capitalized Personal Property - Non-expendable personal property with a useful life of 2 years or more and an acquisition cost above a predetermined threshold. NOAA capitalizes its nonexpendable personal property with an original acquisition value of $200,000 or more.
Capitalization is a financial term which means that the acquisition cost of the asset is recorded in the general ledger of the agency's financial management accounts and its cost is expensed over the asset's useful life in the form of depreciation.

Chartered Aircraft - An aircraft that an executive agency hires commercially under a
contractual agreement specifying performance and one-time exclusive use. The commercial source operates and maintains a charter aircraft. A charter is one form of a full service contract.
Commercial aviation services (CAS) include:

  1. aircraft leased for exclusive use or lease-purchased with the intent of taking title;
  2. aircraft chartered or rented for exclusive use;
  3. aircraft and related aviation services (i.e., "full services") contracted for or obtained through an inter-service support agreement (ISSA) for exclusive use, regardless of the length of the contract or agreement; or
  4. related aviation services (e.g., services of a pilot, or aircraft maintenance, but not for the aircraft) obtained via commercial contract or ISSA, other than for support of NOAA aircraft.
    - Note: Official travel on scheduled air carrier is not a "commercial aviation service."

Federal Aircraft - A government aircraft that an executive agency owns (holds title to) or
borrows for any length of time. When an executive agency loans or bails an aircraft that meets the criteria for Federal aircraft, that loaned or bailed aircraft is still considered a Federal aircraft in the owning agency's inventory.

Full Service Contract - A contractual agreement through which an executive agency acquires an aircraft and related aviation services (e.g., pilot, crew, maintenance, catering) for exclusive use. Aircraft hired under full service contracts are CAS, not Federal aircraft, regardless of the length of the contract.

Government Aircraft - A Federal (i.e., owned or borrowed) aircraft or a commercial aircraft hired as a CAS aircraft. Inter-service Support Agreement (ISSA) - Any agreement between two or more executive agencies in which one agency consents to perform aviation support services (i.e., operating an aircraft and providing other aviation services or providing only services) for another agency with or without cost reimbursement.

Leased Aircraft - An aircraft hired under a commercial contractual agreement in which an
executive agency has exclusive use of the aircraft for an agreed upon period of time. The
acquiring executive agency operates and maintains the aircraft. Leased aircraft are hired as CAS.

NOAA Aircraft- For the purposes of this Order, NOAA aircraft means an aircraft that NOAA
owns (holds title to) or borrows for any length of time.

Public Aircraft - Defmed in section 40102 of title 49 of the U.S. Code (49 U.S.C. § 40102.)

Rental Aircraft - An aircraft hired commercially under an agreement in which the executive
agency has exclusive use of the aircraft for an agreed upon period of time. The executive agency operates, but does not maintain, a rental aircraft.

Unmanned Aircraft (UA) - An aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human
intervention from within or on the aircraft.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) -Airframe, ground control station, command and control
links, and crewmembers.